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New Ulster deal for McCullough
Scrum.com
March 4, 2008

Ulster's Matt McCullough has agreed a new contract which will see him remain at Ravenhill until 2010.

The Ballymena man who was Man of the Match in Ulster's hard fought victory over the Scarlets on Friday night is delighted to be staying, saying this about his decision

"I am delighted with the way things are going within the squad and I am excited about the future under Matt Williams. We have had a difficult 18 months but since Matt Williams has taken charge the players are excited about the future and we feel that we have hopefully turned a corner.

Now we can start to achieve what we have been aiming for, we will take stock in the summer and reassess our goals but I am determined that we are going to bring back fortress Ravenhill, we need to build that back up. I am looking forward to pulling on the Ulster jersey again and again as it means so much to me"

Educated at Ballymena Academy and Trinity College Dublin, Matt McCullough was contracted to Ulster Rugby at the beginning of the 2001-02 season. An all-round sportsman, Matt represented Ballymena Academy in two Ulster Schools Cup Rugby Finals, two Ulster Schools Cup Cricket Finals and two Ulster Schools Cup Golf Finals.

A mainstay of the Ulster pack, Matt has represented Ireland at Schools, U21 (Captain 2001-02), A and full international level. Matt's outstanding performances for Ulster saw him win his first Ireland A cap in March 2005 against France A and he was promoted to the Senior squad for the summer tour to Japan where he won his first two full caps. He came on as a second half substitute in Ireland's 2005 Autumn Internationals against New Zealand and Australia and was part of the Ireland A squad that participated in the Churchill Cup in June 2006.

As well as the McCullough signing Ulster have also confirmed that three development players have upgraded their contracts to full professional contracts and committed to the team for one more year.

Darren Cave, Chris Henry and Stuart Philpott who all came through the Ulster Rugby Academy system have each spent one year as a development player under the tutelage of some of the more senior players.

Matt Williams who spoke last week of the importance of having Ulster men playing for Ulster said this today, "It is great to secure some of our young shining lights so we can build up our squad and ensure that the home grown talent continues to pull on the white jersey"

Chris Henry said this of his contract news, "I am over the moon to have signed, obviously the start of the season was tough but things are looking a lot brighter, Matt Williams has done a great job so far and I am just so happy to be given the opportunity to stay at Ulster and be part of this bright future. Darren, Stuart and myself have all come through the Ulster Rugby Academy which is a great system and it is brilliant to see so many Ulster boys given the chance to play for their province"

Darren Cave was also pleased to have signed his contract, "Matt Williams has made a great impact on the whole squad. Matt as well as the rest of the management are starting to build something that I want to be a part of and I am delighted to be involved for another year"

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